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Sitting atop AVCTL-I was no small accomplishment for coach Jimmy Adams’ crew.

It ended a 19-year gap since Derby’s last league championship and brought a renewed energy to one of the league’s most competitive squads.

“We were able to show the boys that it’s a team effort,” Adams said. “It’s not just one or two swimmers. I [told] our returners after our second practice, ‘It’ll be up to your guys’ leadership if you want to be successful.’ We still have to define what that means for this team.”

The team is sitting at 32 swimmers as the season begins, including an entirely new set of divers. However, a talented nucleus remains that will drive the roster through the winter.

While many of his returning swimmers offer a speciality in sprints or distance, he said the group does still have some versatility between them.

“We don’t have many freshmen, but have a ton of sophomores and juniors that came out,” Adams said. “That’s always nice because sometimes we get seniors that come out and by the time the season is over, they’re finally getting it … Now, we get them for at least another year.”

Starting his second full season at Derby, senior Jordan Weve brings a vast résumé to the pool.

Weve broke the school record in the 100-yard butterfly (54.71) at the league meet last year and Adams said his senior is on the cusp of making a bigger mark on program record books.

“He has really helped the attitude of the team,” Adams said. “He’s super competitive … he knew what it would take to win [at league] and he’s not afraid to share that. Just from the fact that he’s a record holder and he wants to go after a few more, his leadership has been really important.”

Weve also swam in the 200-yard intermediate at the state meet last February.

Just a sophomore, Will McCabe gives the Panthers needed experience in distance swims. He swam in both the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle in Topeka in his first year at Derby.

“He’s pretty talented and right at the end of last year, he ended up qualifying for state,” Adams said. “Just based on the times he’s swimming in club, I think he’s already putting himself in position to qualify in the 200 and 500 right off the bat. He should have a pretty good year.”

Junior Magnus Moeder, who Adams said is a bit of jack-of-all-trades, will mix and match events. His coach also said he’s excited to see how he can perform as an upperclassman.

“He was a big part of last year’s team and he’ll have an even bigger role to play this season,” Adams added.

Trent Voth did not swim at state last year; however, Adams feels confident in what he’ll bring in his third year with Derby swimming.

Voth was a part of the 200-yard medley relay, 200-yard intermediate and 100-yard backstroke at league in Salina last season.

“He swam his tail off for us at league and he dropped massive amounts of time,” Adams said. “… He’s a selfless guy and a very talented one at that. This should be a big year for him.”

Junior Peyton Lake, who Adams said is a physically gifted swimmer, will also play a key role in the depth of Derby’s roster.

“This summer and over the first semester, he has sprouted up and gotten strong,” Adams said. “… He’ll swim pretty well for us and he’ll be a huge role player in being able to move around places. He’ll surprise some people.”

Adams praised diving coach Ron Meisch for his development of past and present athletes. While three state divers (Christian Tafoya, Xavier Wright and Evan Boslaugh) graduated last May, Adams said he is confident in what his assistant will bring to the newest crop of divers.

The Derby coach said there are as many as six or seven candidates off the board this winter.